Introducing Gemma Bridge

The Breast Walk Ever is delighted in introducing Gemma Bridge. Gemma is a member of Team England achieving some incredible results such as 5th in 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Gold in the 3000m race walk at the 2017 British Athletics Indoor Team Trials. 


Gemma has kindly offered her time to give our Virtual Breast Walk Ever supporters some tips on all aspects of walking and endurance. Gemma will be releasing videos of the starting points of each area as well as in-depth blogs to help you make it to the finish line of this virtual walking challenge. 




By Gemma bridge
Who am I?

My name is Gemma. I am a bit of a jack of all trades as I am a PhD student, international athlete and freelance food and science writer. I am currently in Leeds for my PhD, but I grew up in Oxfordshire and my family still live in the county. I have always been very active. As a child I used to love trampolining, swimming and gymnastics. But, when I entered secondary school, I developed a passion for running. I competed in many local races for my school and later for my club, Oxford City. I continued to run whilst at the University of Birmingham and found a talent for endurance events. I was offered a full athletic scholarship to McNeese State University in America, where I continued to improve my running. Whilst there I also completed a dual master’s in health Promotion and Exercise Physiology.

When I returned to the UK, after two years in the USA, I moved to Leeds to do a PhD in public health. Leeds was and still is, the national hub for racewalking. Despite still loving to run, I was keen for a new challenge. So, I decided to switch gears and become a walker. Within a few months I had unexpectedly become one of the top up-and-coming race walkers in England. In my first season, I became British champion over 3km and English champion over 10km. A few weeks later I shocked myself when I achieved the fastest 20-kilometer debut time in British history (1:37:35). Then, even more shockingly, in June of the same year, I shaved more than five minutes off my time and qualified for the IAAF World Championships in London. I had some injury issues in 2018 and 2019, but I was fortunate enough to be selected to compete at the Commonwealth Games, which were held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Despite the current pandemic, I recently completed my PhD, and am still training hard. I am working to return to the form of 2017 so that I can achieve selection for the Tokyo Olympics, which were recently rescheduled to 2021 as a result of COVID-19.

Why I would like to support ABC

Like most people, I have many friends, family and colleagues who have battled with cancer. I have seen how horrible the condition can be. The only way that we are going to stop cancer, is through dedicated research. But as a PhD student, I fully appreciate how hard it can be to conduct research if you lack financial resources. As a result, the work of charities like ABC, and the support that they receive from the community, is invaluable.

What am I going to do to help?

I am excited to have been asked to assist ABC with one of their biggest sporting events of the year, the Breast Walk Ever. Over the next few months I am going to be sharing training tips, nutrition advice and motivational quotes, to inspire and encourage as many of you as possible to get your walking shoes on.

Staying Motivated

By Gemma Bridge

We may have moved Breast Walk Ever to a virtual event, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep focused on the event. I am facing months without races, and that means that it is sometimes hard to motivate myself to pull on my trainers and get out of the door. But I have come up with some ways to keep me going, even when I might not want to. In this post I share four ways that you can use to maintain your motivation to achieve your goals, and complete the Breast Walk Ever 2020.

  1. Focus on setting small, achievable goals

Set mini targets to achieve each day and bigger goals to achieve each week and month. Write your goals out and tick them off as you achieve them. Can you walk an extra 10 minutes this week? At the end of each week review what you have achieved, this will help you keep to an objective and give focus. Then, after 12 weeks you will be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.

  1. Stay connected

Technology allows us to stay connected, even when miles apart. Make the most of it and ensure that you have regular catch up with friends and family. Also, why not use the technology to keep you motivated to train? What about doing a treadmill walk, or an indoor gym session whilst on a zoom call with a friend? Also, don’t forget the wider Breast Walk Ever community on social media. Why don’t you engage with others, set certain goals within a time period and share achievements to keep each other motivated.

  1. Try something new

Doing something different can be as good as rest for keeping your goals on track. There are lots of new things you can try. Why not check out some online yoga to boost your strength and flexibility, go to the park and get involved with a boot camp, or get on your bike and go for a ride with friends or family. Trying out different modes of exercise will not only keep you motivated moving forward, but it will also add value to your fitness by challenging your body in new ways.

  1. Self care

Training on your own for a big event can feel overwhelming at times. It is important that you focus on your health as well as your fitness. Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep as often as possible – aiming for at least 7 hours, focus on staying hydrated – drinking lots of fluid before, during and after training, and be sure to fuel adequately throughout the day to keep your energy levels up.

Now, go and get your walking boots on, and get out. You are at the start of an exciting journey, one that your future self will thank you for.

12-week’s to walk a marathon: A training plan

Training Plan
This is the first-week of your training plan. This week is great for tracking your average walking speed to help you benchmark goals.
Week 2 already! This week is your introduction to speed walking. This is where monitoring your average walking speed is really useful! Aim to walk twice as far as you did last Monday.
Congrats! You are halfway through the training. You will soon start to feel the benefits for the training. Distances and times should start to improve! Hill training is helps build up power in the legs. Aim to keep a steady pace on the hills.
Time to put this training to the test with the Virtual Breast Walk Ever! Sign up today!
Yay! Rest Day!
Save the training plan to your device!

If you want to walk a marathon in 12 weeks, this training program is for you! The 12-week plan is best suited for those who have been walking at least 3-4 times per week and are comfortable walking 30-40 minutes at a time.

Consistency is key

The plan starts with short walks but will build up gradually so that you can reach your 26-mile goal by September. Consistency is key to achieving success, so ensure that you keep going and fix your eyes on your goal. It is important not to increase or decrease your training too much as this can put stress on your body and put you at risk of injury.

Boost motivation

A great way to keep yourself motivated is by training with other people. Why not ask a friend or family member to join you? If they are not able to join you in person, you could do workouts together online or speak to each other on the phone whilst on your walks. Not only will training be more fun with a friend but you will also both be more likely to keep pushing on and reach your goals. I haven’t been able to train with anyone for ages, but I certainly reap the benefits when I can.

Cross training

The 12-week plan includes cross-training workouts, where you can try other activities that you enjoy. These sessions will complement your program and keep it varied. Whatever you choose, make sure the workout increases your heart rate. Why not try activities like swimming, dancing or even kickboxing! I really enjoy going for bike rides as cycling is low impact and gives me the opportunity to explore new places.

Strength sessions

The programme also includes strength sessions, which will help you to keep injuries at bay. It is best to separate these sessions from your cross-training workouts, so why not do one in the morning and one at the end of the day? In your strength sessions try and include bodyweight exercises like press ups, core and mobility exercises like plank and arabesque holds, and some weighted exercises like squats. If you don’t have weights at home, you could fill a rucksack with tins of beans or use water bottles. These sessions should be tough but controlled.

Rest and recovery

Two rest days per week are also included in the plan. These are important as they will allow your body to recover and adapt to the progression of the program. You should also ensure that you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every day as this will give your body time to build itself after your workouts. Rest days are a good opportunity to stretch, practice mindfulness and spend time with family. I like to use my rest days to catch up on TV, make gifts for friends and get creative in the kitchen.

Reach your goal

If you follow the programme, look after your mental health and give yourself adequate recovery (sleep and good nutrition), week by week, your body will adapt, get stronger and walk longer. Before you know it you will achieve your goal of walking 26 miles!


Week 1